As humans we often experience some sort of negative feeling. The force to avoid or resolve these feelings is the primary motivator for action. It is this domain of experience that largely determines our relationship to life.
Because suffering plays such a large role in our life experience, it would be advantageous to relate to it in a way that empowers us. Something that empowers is useful, effective, accurate, and freeing. In order to do this we must come to understand what the event of suffering is.
Suffering is the means by which life maintains specific structures. It is a conceptual event (created in the domain of mind) which generates the implicit knowledge that something is to be avoided. Anything that is seen by the self as a threat to its persistence will engender suffering on some level. Without this force, life would not necessarily avoid threatening things.
Because this event is created by the mind, it can be ended. Human bodies do not need suffering to survive. On the other hand, as a self (which are conceptual, illusory), suffering is our substance.
So long as there is a separate self, there is suffering because it exists as a means to an end. In other words, a manipulation. The false self is itself an act of avoidance, and so cannot be divorced from suffering.
There seems to be two primary approaches we can take in trying to mature our relationship to self and suffering:
- Be free. Eliminate the need to suffer by undermining the assumptions that allows it to be. If, for example, there was no need to succeed at anything, to be any way, or even to feel like ‘me’, then there would be no suffering— no need to avoid or resolve. All of that is created and not really there outside of the act of creation. The whole dynamic can be dropped in much the same way it was picked up. To do this, we must see the conceptual nature clearly, and at the same time seeing the true condition in which you exist. When this occurs the framework that generates suffering is cognized as unnecessary and can be dropped. This endeavor is greatly empowered by “enlightenment”, in which the true condition is made clear and the false is seen for what it is (false!). If we are suffering we must be assuming something untrue, when we no longer make untrue assumptions we do not suffer. In reality there is no necessity.
- Become conscious of the purpose of suffering and relate intelligently to its arising. Come to understand it so deeply that it can be used as a tool for growth in both understanding and effectiveness. This is useful because before fully transcending our suffering we are likely to experience it as a continuous influence.
By being keenly aware of the specific ways we suffer, we can come to know what we are. The individual that you exist as is unique in its design and expression. In order to live most powerfully as that unique individual, you must be conscious of what it exists as. The patterns of suffering that emerge from and as this “person” are powerful clues that, if investigated honestly, can lead one to a more authentic, integrated and empowered expression. This is because the suffering you create is based upon the assumptions you have about self and world.
Following the suffering backwards leads you to the underlying matrix of assumed truth. This matrix is what your self and world exist as. Being in contact with it on that level is conducive to effectiveness and freedom.
On another level we can extract powerful life lessons from our suffering, as each expression tells a relative truth when viewed correctly. For example, our fear can be seen as a call to become more aware, our guilt an indicator that an action is selfish, anger as a need to humble the self, embarrassment as a sign of inauthenticity, and so on with each negative experience.
We can engage both of these avenues simultaneously to remain grounded in both the truth of no suffering and the truth of our relative appearance. The end result being happiness.